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A chilling weekend at Aberdeen’s Granite Noir Crime Writing Festival

This weekend I travelled north to Aberdeen, Scotland’s aptly named silver city, for the annual Granite Noir Crime Writing Festival. The city certainly lived up to its name, with granite facades and a monochrome sky that would later decorate the pavements in a sheath of slush and snow – the perfect austere backdrop to a weekend of talks from crime and thrillers’ most exciting writers.

Returning for its fourth consecutive year, the Granite Noir festival was inspired by the Granite city – its history, its atmosphere and its strong sense of place. Across the weekend, talks, readings and Q&A discussions were held in some of the most interesting, quirky and unusual spaces across the city from the gothic Carmelite Hotel to Aberdeen Sheriff Court and The Lemon Tree offering an arresting line-up for all crime fans.

Headlining Granite Noir 2020 was the legendary American author Sara Paretsky, bringing the latest in her V.I. Warshawski series. Norway’s best-selling female crime writer Anne Holt, also made a thrilling appearance, while Ben Aaronovitch, talked magic and mayhem while introducing his newest urban fantasy adventure, False Value. And of course, the festival wouldn’t have been complete without Scotland’s own Ian Rankin, joined by friend and comedian Phill Jupitus to talk all things Rebus.

My favourite event though, was Locals in the Limelight, which gave Aberdeenshire’s young, homegrown talent the chance to read extracts from their own noir fiction. It’s always exciting to listen to new, unpublished voices, particularly when the extracts are so fiercely accomplished – and I came away wondering if I might just have heard the next big name in this gritty world of crime.


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